Live It

Beijing, China – 5:21 am, 2/24/2011
4:21 pm EST – USA 2/23/2011

Why China? Why was the first one held in Qatar? Why India last year?

Some has to do with sponsorship – finding innovative schools. But a lot has to do with living it.

You don't have to teach ABOUT China if you can live China. Some of you will participate virtually in the conference and see the sites go up and down, the teachable moments, you'll understand it better because you were either face to face and lived it or because you were virtual and lived it.

I have been living China for almost a week. Just now I'm able to get back on this blog even through my VPN. There are things I have to be wary of discussing even as I type that could cause sites to be blocked or for me to be viewed unfavorably. I am living it.

My students are living it (as you can see in the photo album.) The students who went last year with me to India are comparing and contrasting India and China in many powerful ways. They live it.

I'm living it to. The struggle of getting money into China. The struggle of the time zone differences with the US. The struggle of the ability to communicate with you back in the US. The tears.

Yes, we have a vision, but making visions happen comes at a price. It has been at a price and continues to be.

James Paul Gee has an excellent MacArthur report paper where he talks about that New Digital Media and Learning as an Emerging Area and “Worked Examples” as One Way Forward. The summary of this work says:

He argues that DMAL will not evolve until a real coherence develops through collaboration and the accumulation of shared knowledge. Gee offers a concrete proposal of one way scholars in DMAL could move the area forward to a more cohesive, integrated, and collaborative enterprise: the production of what he terms “worked examples.”

In Gee's sense of a worked example, scholars attempting to build the new area of DMAL would publicly display their methods of valuing and thinking about a specific problem, proposing them as examples of “good work” in order to engender debate about what such work in DMAL might come to look like and what shape the area itself might take. The goal would not be for the proposed approach to become the accepted one but for it to become fodder for new work and collaboration.”

This conference will produce 41 worked examples of how global collaborative projects (using Digital Media and Learning) can be used to improve education. (See – these projects designed by students and teachers and administrators with participation from virtual participants and people from diverse backgrounds can give us some great thoughts and discussion points for how we can truly integrate global collaboration into our courses in ways that add meaning and improve learning.

This is a worthy cause. We've worked very hard to get the best in the business who understand this model of action-based conferencing undergirded by meaningful actions and outcomes for the participants to come here and honestly, most of them are barely breaking even on the trip, if that. Julie and I do not pay ourselves anything. This method of conferencing is in its infancy but we believe it is an important method of professional development and hope that the conference itself becomes a working model of effective action-based professional development and learning for both students and educators.

WE're excited and the conference is going to be great, but I will tell you that it has been a huge strain pulling this together… especially on Julie but also on me as well. Any support you wish to give our nonprofit is appreciated as right now we are faced with US and Chinese banks that have not handled our money transfers properly.

So, please join us virtually if you wish by joining our Ning and Wiki and viewing the conference on our Taking IT Global  portal.

Oh, one great thing – I can now get on Twitter and Hootsuite again after beeing Tweetless for most of this week! It has been a struggle to communicate this week. (Wonder why? 😉 and yes I know why – just can't say it.) Will tell you more later — right now I'm living it!

Join us and live it to. You can be part of something that people are willing to sacrifice for to improve education. You can be part of a wonderful vision that has teachers connecting directly. Yes, we have a nonprofit, but for the most part we're just moving forward with a ton of amazing volunteers who believe it is time to stop lecturing about “action based learning” and “global collaboration” and “digital storytelling” and to do it for a change.

The hypocrisy of a lecture about project based learning doesn't happen here – we're to busy working and teaching. Let the fun begin! Live the change!

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9 thoughts on “Live It

  1. This is so amazing! Inspiring and dedicated teachers! Motivated and determined students.
    Set the standard and keep up your pioneering spirit to make a difference which you all have accomplished already.

  2. What a wonderful perspective on how more people need to take action in order to actually do what they say and write they’re going to do. Your actual lived experience teaching in China speaks volumes about the motivation of a few to bring about change when most other people are living from afar and wondering what they could do.

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  4. How can the flat classroom project which is intended to break down social and cultural barriers between nations be used as a tool to advance democracy? A mind must be free to explore alternative points of view in order to be critical of it and others. If people in China or anywhere for that matter are limited in reach, with respect to the ideas and thoughts they may convey; does that not constrain the process of comprehension, creativity, and innovation? To what extent does choosing China as the host for your project expand the spectrum of knowledge gained by students in American and Chinese classrooms? Are the benefits equally distributed, or do China’s restrictive government policies of controlling people’s access to information create disproportionate results?

  5. Although we had some restrictions we have to understand this. We had the conference in Beijing so we can understand the challenges of global collaboration! What better place to do this.

    Also, you said that “use this as a tool to advance democracy” – we try to be apolitical! Although I personally believe in democracy as the best system of government, if we are “hung up” on side issues we limit our ability to connect students.

    I’m glad we held it in China and yes, I’ve gotten some criticism from here in the US. We haven’t held it in the US but when we do, it will definitely be in a place where everyone says “Now, why did they have it there?” Because then, we demonstrate the power of flatness and the ability to connect anyone anywhere any time.

    We felt the great firewall of china while we were there but overall we went around it.

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